15 February 2009

The Wayne Rooney Song

Seventy six thousand, three hundred and fifty four fans line the steep heights of a modern coliseum. Seventy six thousand, three hundred and fifty four sightlines cross-section the great space, humming on the air like heat. The football pitch is laid out beneath like clean, green sheets, a long way down and floodlit.
Soon, it’s really filled up, they’ve scored their second and the stadium is rocking.
“Genius, absolute genius,” says the man, picking his son up under the armpits and lifting him up to the light and noise. The four year old hangs there for a moment, his feet dangling.

It was Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United player. The secret was Rooney’s exceptionally high IQ, his inborn intellect which, after childhood incidents, was diverted and could be expressed only as a kind of physical intelligence - the athleticism for which he would become famous.

When I was young, I loved my mum, and my little brothers. My mental endowment had done nothing to obscure that. I loved them too much to ever let them know how superior my mind was to theirs. A many-sectioned walnut, deep brown, to their shrivelled, unabsorbent pea brains.
Coming down Windsor Street to Toxteth Library, coming along William Brown Street to the Central Library, skiving school so I could sate, rather than stunt, my curiosity. The Mersey drizzle a shared shroud, slicked steps and Georgian pillars, a revolving door. The library attendant’s knitted cardigan and the ornate, thick beige of her reading glasses. Her condescending smile for a child’s face blank and credulous as mine.
All the books I stole, never to be returned. And coming back to the house, pregnant with big books up my jumper. Saying I’d been out at football, at a mates’, whatever: all the sweet, sweet lies I told getting literature past mum.

“He’ll have a hat-trick now, I tell you. We’ll get your mam take away, shall we? Celebrate. She won’t mind about the bevvies, either, that way. Good lad.”

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